The Free Trade Association of the Americas, Mercosur-European Union talks and the World Trade Organization Doha round are the three main international challenges for Mercosur next year.
Brazilian Ambassador Regis Arslanian, head of the International Negotiations Department who will have a leading role said that talks involving the three challenges are scheduled to begin next January.
The first meeting will be between the FTAA co-presidents, Peter Algayer from the United States and Adhemar Bahadian from Brazil, and will include not only market access for goods and services but the even more controversial issue of investments. Intellectual property and agriculture which proved irritating points in 2004 will be left out for a later date.
Regarding the European Union a tentative meeting is expected next February before the formal ministerial meeting sometime during the first quarter of 2005 when the new EU negotiating team headed by Peter Mandelsen will be officially presented.
"Since early December we're ironing out points so the process can become more constructive", said Mr. Bahadian.
Mercosur Brazilian representatives have been encouraged by the recent signing of trade agreements with India and the Customs Union of Austral Africa (includes South Africa) involving almost 2,000 goods which will be submitted to preferential tariffs.
"We expect these talks to continue advancing in parallel with the Doha Round debates for further world trade liberalization", added Mr. Bahadian.